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Local musicians help Greater Lansing Food Bank

March 27, 2013
	<p>Hans Schroeder, Lansing Community College student and member of the Student Leadership Academy, sorts out different types of food Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at the Greater Lansing Food Bank Warehouse, 2116 Mint Road, in Lansing. Donation money raised by the We Sing for Food project goes to the food bank where volunteers help distribute it. Adam Toolin/The State News</p>

Hans Schroeder, Lansing Community College student and member of the Student Leadership Academy, sorts out different types of food Wednesday, March 27, 2013, at the Greater Lansing Food Bank Warehouse, 2116 Mint Road, in Lansing. Donation money raised by the We Sing for Food project goes to the food bank where volunteers help distribute it. Adam Toolin/The State News

Photo by Adam Toolin | The State News

The idea began with music, MSU football and charity.

When Brian Pentland, a professor in the Broad College of Business, spent his MSU football Saturdays singing and strumming his guitar raising money for the Greater Lansing Food Bank last fall, he knew his pastime had more potential.

“The trick (was) to get local singer-songwriters that are never going to be on iTunes … (and) create an avenue for them to get some visibility and also raise money for the food bank,” he said.

Pentland had the idea — iTunes for the Food Bank — but he didn’t know how to cultivate it until he became a client of students enrolled in an information technology project management course who helped create the nonprofit We Sing For Food, which launched this semester.

We Sing For Food is a start-up student organization that grants working Michigan musicians visibility while donating to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

With every $1 donated, an individual can download a free original song from a Michigan-based musician or 10 songs for $7, said media and information senior Ron Brown. Brown is one of three ITM 444 students who helped establish the project.

But students with We Sing For Food are not the first Spartans to work with the food bank, said Kim Gladstone, a Greater Lansing Food Bank development manager.

Most of the bands featured on the site play folk, bluegrass and alternative-rock music, Brown said. The site showcases songs by Pentland — also known as Doctor Decade, The Whiskey Pickers and The Kodaks, among other artists.

Students in the project management class led by Constantinos Coursaris, an assistant professor in the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, were paired with “clients,” such as Pentland in this case, to help actualize their requests. The class basically is a supervised internship in the information technology specialization, Coursaris said.

Brown said many other projects involved database creation or other technical projects.
“I was just really drawn to this one,” he said.

“It was a start-up ­— so wide open, so much we could possibly do for it.”

Since the nonprofit’s Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp pages officially launched on Friday, We Sing For Food has raised $52 for the Greater Lansing Food Bank and has posted seven original songs from different musicians, Pentland said.

Brown and Pentland said they wanted to fundraise for a cause that is universal, such as the community food bank.

Gladstone said although Michigan’s economy is improving, there still is a high demand for food bank services, because many people are underemployed and earn lower wages than they did before.

“We’re very happy to be involved in it; it seems like this is going to be a great initiative,” she said.
“This is a unique project this group is doing.”

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